‘Bigtime’ Wanganui Cup Looms

It sure was a ‘Bigtime’ 2016/17 racing season for trainer Lisa Cole. The new season has commenced in the same stylish manner for the Palmerston North based conditioner as seen by her qualifying four finalists for Friday’s $27,450 Wanganui Cup Final.

Pictured: Allegro Gun who is the early Wanganui Cup favourite

Cole is a guaranteed winner and even more so as her team is loaded away into the 520m traps for this Group 1 decider. She has the only Kiwi bred greyhounds in the drawn field, meaning providing the second reserve doesn’t get back into the field, she will pick up the $1,000 NZ Breeders’ bonus which is paid to the first Kiwi bred greyhound the finish in a Group 1 Final.

She produced litter brothers to win the first two heats held at the Hatrick Raceway last Friday. First up it was Spring Allegro who dictated terms to his heat rivals after jumping away smartly from trap seven.

That translated into a 30.10s win, which set the time standard for the heats. He has been allocated the ace trap to jump away from here. “He’s a funny dog – he’s a goose with other dogs around him even though he’s a big dog. As we saw last week he’s very capable when he’s clear in front,” said Brendon Cole.

Brother Allegro Gun adopted exactly the same tidy racing tactic when he also led his heat throughout to stop the clock in 30.14s. He completed last season in stunning form and he is poised to taste his first success at Group 1 level here. He has drawn okay in the three trap.

“Gun is a more foolproof dog as he can take a knock. He has obvious early pace and that makes him a strong chance. My biggest worry is the brothers either clashing (jostling) when rounding the first turn or cutting each other’s throats when racing down the back. If they do, that could leave them sitting ducks by the strong finishers behind them,” advised Cole.

The third heat winner was provided by Matt Roberts who astutely stepped Cawbourne Mezza up from short course sprinting to the middle distance, which saw her delivering her on the pace heat win in 30.43s. Sure the time wasn’t close to the brothers, but hey all you can do is win.

Her trainer modestly told us, “I guess it was a bit fortuitous her winning her heat and I was very happy with the way she stuck it out in the run home – now she’s had no luck in the box draw (trap five). She is really well and I expect improvement from her on Friday. If she is racing handy to the pace, then a placing wouldn’t be beyond her. She has been bouncing around, ready to go again.”

Incidentally, all three heat winners are sired by Spring Gun, who is also represented by a finalist in the evening’s other Group race feature, the Wanganui Stayers final.

Back to the Cole mentored finalists. Spare Some Time was a Group 1 winner around this circuit last season. He returns for another lick at an elite race following his 1.5 length heat second to Cawbourne Mezza. He won’t object to being required to exit from trap six here. “That’s a good draw for Spare Some Time, but I’m not sure if he can cross the inside dogs before the first turn,” said Cole.

Bigtime Paddy is an exciting prospect for the new racing season with it being his classic age season. He started the right way by qualifying for this final via his sound 1.5 heat third to kennelmate Spring Allegro. Let’s remember this fella has slipped underneath the 520m second barrier here on no less than five occasions with the best being in a slippery 29.79s.

“Paddy was up in weight in his heat – we’ve got him back down now. He’s the shining light in terms of our promising dogs. He is a very fast dog and he is getting stronger now. Yes he’ll be alright in this if he runs another sub 30 second 520m. All four of our dogs can run quick first sectionals and it’s all likely to come down to where they’re positioned on the first turn,” suggested Cole.

Spring Allegro Spare Some Time Bigtime Paddy
The remaining three Lisa Cole trained Wanganui Cup finalists (from left): Spring Allegro; Spare Some Time; Bigtime Paddy

Delivering perhaps the boldest race from the heats was the Craig Roberts prepared Ridin’ Ain’t Over. He was massive when winding up a half length second to Spring Allegro. Massive because he was checked and relegated back to the rear group when going into the first turn. From there he picked up his paws to weave his way past his opponents and then thunder home for his placing.

With his trainer away in Fiji sunning himself at the moment we spoke to Roberts’ “transport manager” Bobby Blackburn. “He’ll be alright, providing he gets around the first turn okay. He’s right on target for a big race. If he uses his brain, then yes, he can win the final. He is on top of his game and is in great nick going into Friday.”

Roberts also qualified Letron James for this decider after he delivered his sound 6.5 length third behind Allegro Gun. He did so from his favoured trap two draw, however on Friday he will be required to wear the pink racing vest in a continuation of the poor draws he ended up receiving in last season’s Group race finals.

“The poor fella can’t draw a decent trap for the big races he makes. The boy is going to need all the luck in the world from out there. He is a nice dog, so hopefully he gets a nice cart into the race. He’s all good going into the final,” confirmed Blackburn, who added, “We need that little bird on our shoulder going into the first turn.”

Dave and Jean Fahey produced Kava Blu to win last season’s Wanganui Cup and on this occasion they will be represented by the current Auckland Cup title holder He’s All Power. He pressed on stoutly during the run home for his 6.25 heat third behind Allegro Gun. You can confidently expect him to have derived benefit from his heat assignment as he went into that on the fresh side. Victory by him will bring up 100 Group race training wins for the couple – a truly remarkable effort.

“He should be an improver after his heat. He’s a strong muscular greyhound, built pretty much like a prop forward who could cause some trouble if he drops his shoulder when going around the first turn. His draw should work out for him and he has come through his heat okay,” said Dave Fahey.

Cawbourne Mezza Ride Aint Over He's All Power
Wanganui Cup finalists (from left): Cawbourne Mezza; Ride Ain’t Over; He’s All Power

Tranquil Rue, from the Angela Turnwald kennels is the first reserve. She nailed that position when claiming the third placing in the heat won by Cawbourne Mezza when she pressed on stoutly during the run home.

The Karen Walsh prepared Thrilling Flo occupies the second possie on the reserves bench after delivering her close up 1.6 length heat fourth to Spring Allegro. Her claims cannot be ignored in the unlikely event she receives a race start here as she was a Group 1 520m winner at this venue last season.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 10/08/2017 4:48:17 PM

< Back